Rory McIlroy full of praise for new caddie at Firestone
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/08/17 6:16am
Rory McIlroy was happy with the performance of new caddie Harry Diamond as the pair enjoyed a positive first tournament together at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
McIlroy confirmed at his pre-tournament press conference that close-friend Diamond would be on his bag at Firestone as well as next week's PGA Championship after deciding to terminate his nine-year partnership with JP Fitzgerald.
Diamond, who was the best man as McIlroy's wedding earlier this year, received a grade of "A" from the world No 4, who put together four sub-70 rounds as he earned a tie for fifth place on seven under, although he finished nine shots adrift of runaway champion Hideki Matsuyama.
"Harry was good, and he encouraged me when I needed it," said McIlroy, who also posted a top-10 finish at The Open after arriving at Royal Birkdale having missed the cut in three of his previous four events.
"We both did yardages and we didn't really make any mistakes out there. He did what was expected of him, so I guess you can't not give him an A."
McIlroy will take plenty of positives to Quail Hollow this week for the final major of the year, and he is confident about the state of his all-round game as he looks for his first win of 2017, and his first major for three years.
"I thought I saw some improvements in my game from when I got here on Wednesday," he added. "I thought my wedge play got a little bit better as the week went on, and I putted pretty well. Even when I missed putts out there, they were scaring the hole, so that was good.
"I drove the ball well, so everything that I need to do next week, I'm pretty comfortable with. I'm just excited to get there and have a good look at some of the changes and get myself prepared for next Thursday.
"My wedge play was much better, I just need a couple little tweaks to my technique, but I also need to be a little bit more aware of certain distances and trying to keep the flight down a little bit. But it was much better, I'm really happy with that and I hit some really good wedge shots especially on the back nine."
McIlroy also played down the pressure of being one of the pre-tournament favourites given his recent form and his superb record at Quail Hollow, where he has won the Wells Fargo Championship twice while losing out to Rickie Fowler in a play-off in 2012.
"I've won a couple times around Quail Hollow, and I like PGA Championship setups," said the 28-year-old. "If I'm the favourite, I'm the favourite - I'm happy with that.
"It means I'm playing well, which is much different than going into my last majors. It's amazing what two weeks can do but such is life. It's all good."